Do you dread the moment when a potential employer asks about your previous salary in a job interview or salary negotiation? If so, you're not alone: More than half of Americans think companies should quit asking the question.
According to a new survey from Glassdoor, a jobs and recruiting site, 53% of U.S. workers say employers should not ask candidates about their current or past salary history when negotiating a job offer. Interestingly, women were more likely to object to the question than men (60% compared to 48%), a disparity the company links to the persistence of the gender pay gap; on average women earn 76 cents for every dollar a man earns. Given that women are more likely to come into a job with a lower salary—and are less likely to negotiate pay (Glassdoor previously found that 68% of women do not negotiate, compared to 52% of men)—the previous salary question puts them at a distinct disadvantage.
“Due to stereotypes and bias, past salary is not an accurate measure of an employee’s value and putting all the onus on the candidate to negotiate their salary is not the answer either,” said Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, executive director of the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University, in a statement.
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Some states and cities appear to agree, with New York City banning the question in April—just a few months after Philadelphia did the same. In 2016, the state of Massachusetts came out as the first state to pass a law prohibiting employers from asking interviewees about their salary history.
That's not so say that workers have an issue with transparency. In fact, 98% of respondents told Glassdoor that that it would be helpful to see pay ranges included in open job listings.
“The time of looking backward to go forward to determine pay is over,” said Dawn Lyon, Glassdoor chief equal pay advocate and senior vice president of global corporate affairs. “We need to reframe the conversation to pay expectations around the value of the job and the skills and relevant experience required to do it.”
For those that do still encounter questions about salary history, Lyon recommended that candidates reframe the conversation around the value employers place on the skills they will bring to the table. Candidates have no legal obligation to answer questions about salary history and shouldn’t feel pressured to give an answer, said Lyon.